FINCASTLE — Circuit Court Judge Malfourd “Bo” Trumbo is retiring Jan. 1 after 13 years on the bench.
Trumbo, 62, said Monday that he has notified Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald W. Lemons and the General Assembly of his intent to retire.
Trumbo said he is hopeful the General Assembly will appoint a successor in its upcoming session, which begins in January. Circuit court judges serve eight-year terms.
“I’ve made no bones about what I have planned to do over the last year. I’ve told folks that I am going to do this,” he said.
Trumbo serves the state’s 25th Judicial Circuit, which includes Alleghany, Bath, Botetourt, Craig, Highland, Rockbridge and Augusta counties.
Since 2013, he had served as the circuit’s chief judge. He resigned that position Sept. 1 with retirement just four months away.
Trumbo served in the Virginia legislature from 1990 to 2014. He served in the House of Delegates from 1990 to 1992. He was a state senator from 1992 to 2004. Trumbo was appointed as a judge following the death of Judge Duncan M. Byrd Jr. of Bath County in 2003. Byrd was killed in a traffic accident.
“I have told my wife that I did not want to have senator or judge on my headstone after I die,” Trumbo said.
The fact that he has maximized his state retirement benefits also weighed into his decision.
Trumbo plans to do work for the McCammon Group, a Richmond-based arbitration firm, and possibly as a substitute judge.
“I have always considered myself to be a problem solver,” he said of his desire to be an arbitrator.
Trumbo is a graduate of Covington High School. His parents, the late Whitney and Betty Trumbo, were long-time Covington educators. Whitney Trumbo served as principal of Covington High School and Edgemont Elementary School. Betty Trumbo taught students at the elementary level.
Trumbo said his parents instilled him with a desire to be in public service. He was a school teacher after graduating from the College of William and Mary. He then returned to school and earned a law degree from the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at William and Mary. He practiced law in Fincastle while serving in the General Assembly.
“I was told to be a user of whatever talents I may have to better my community or society,” he said.
But judges have to maintain impartiality and while serving on the bench, Trumbo said he has largely lived an isolated life, unable to attend church regularly or participate in civic or social events.
“I was one of the best back-slapping politicians you ever met, but when you take the position of a judge, you have to divorce the politician from the individual. For the past 13 years, I have lived in hibernation. I’ve mowed a lot of grass and fixed up the water heater. I’ve been cooped up and it has been a very difficult position,” he said.
He said judges also get a first-hand look at the “underbelly of the world that you never saw before, particularly in criminal cases.”
Trumbo has largely presided over cases in Botetourt, Craig and Alleghany counties in the sprawling 25th Judicial Circuit. He is still listed as the presiding judge over Alleghany County Circuit Court, even though most cases are now heard by Judge Chapman Goodwin, who was appointed to give the district five sitting judges.
Four of the five judges in the district either live in or near Augusta County.
Trumbo’s wife, the former Susan Moore, is also from Covington. She retired recently as a full-time teacher. She now works as an education consultant and also substitute teaches.
Trumbo, who recently underwent double knee replacement and continues to battle diabetes, says he and his wife plan to spend more time with their two grandchildren.
“I will miss the people that I work with but I will not miss the constraints of our legal system as an effort to solve problems,” he said.